TAMARAC, Fla. – Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler has some unorthodox ideas about medical marijuana and the amendment -- supported by 70 percent of the voters -- that made it legal in Florida.
"It's a gigantic scam," Dressler said, adding later, "I would resent it having the state being my dope dealer."
On Wednesday night, Dressler's city banned medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, meaning that its 65,000 residents will have to go elsewhere for medicinal cannabis. But Dressler advice for residents who want medical marijuana might be even more controversial than the vote itself. He told them to buy it on the Internet.
"If you're looking for medical marijuana … you can get that stuff without a prescription on the Internet," he said on the dais before the vote. "It comes as an oil and, I think, if I get the letters right, I think it's CBD, or CDB."
CBD is the part of the cannabis plant that is not psychotropic and does have medicinal value. It is sold online by a number of companies. Dressler claimed THC, the chemical in cannabis that affects the mind and is responsible for the "high" feeling, doesn't have medical value.
"If we allowed this in our city, we'd have people going in, 'Oh, I want some of the Bolivian Blue, or whatever the names are for different kinds of pot, with different sensations and different levels of strength and hallucinatory issues to it," Dressler said. "If you want medical marijuana for the reasons that I cited, you can go online. There's 20 different companies. You find the one you think is reputable."
The problem: THC is widely considered to have considerable medicinal value. Former cancer patient Bruce Vanaman, for instance, credits THC specifically, which was recommended to him by a physician, with helping him to survive the disease and he said Dressler needs to "be set straight."
"I cannot believe there is someone like that that is allowed to speak in public and thinks that they represent the voice of people who voted for this," Vanaman said. "I find that very dangerous for people to be recommended to go on the Internet and buy something on the Internet that they cannot verify themselves or have tested or have recommended by their doctor. THC ... is used for very specific ailments, not just pain control, but also PTSD, Parkinson's, tremors, in my case, nausea."
When questioned Friday, even Dressler conceded that THC has been shown to help cancer patients recover and, in an unforeseen twist, the mayor said he actually favors citizens having the right to grow it themselves and keeping the government out of it altogether. But he stood by his comments from Wednesday night when he said, "I don't think for a second these dispensaries are intended to dispense medical marijuana -- they're going to be weed shops."
Vanaman said Dressler couldn't be more wrong and urged people in Dressler's city to seek advice from their doctor.
"It's an outright lie to say this is a sham," Vanaman said. "Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have gotten these recommendations from doctors. We need to let qualified people make these decisions, not politicians."